Friday, May 15, 2009

A Sea Mammal Day

A lot has been happening in the bay lately. We've been watching from the side lines-- our windows-- binoculars and camera always ready on the sill. Mostly we see it all from this distance and know that running down to the wharf won't ever get the intended results. By the time we get there the action is over-- no otters, sea lions, terns, pelicans, or dolphins. So a chance close encounter when we are actually down there at the shoreline is just that-- sheer good fortune, luck, and timing.
We headed out for our daily walk Thursday. It's been warm and sunny, perfect spring weather. We always start our little local walk by heading down to the end of the wharf. Typically there are people fishing from both sides with a little crowd at the end. Thursday was no exception, except the usual fishing quiet was interrupted by a barking ruckus coming from the bay. Two sea lions were cavorting with wild exuberance on this sunny afternoon. It was the kind of stuff we always see from our window. But here they were, close to the wharf and carrying on like our presence didn't matter at all. It was grand to be utterly ignored. We hoped their enthusiastic displays meant that there was plenty of food around for everyone. There have been hundreds of cormorants and grebes hunting madly for food lately, but to no avail. We'd like to think that the sea lions' presence bodes well for all these hungry creatures.
Surprisingly, at the same time we saw this sea otter lunching on some crab. When we see pelicans, cormorants, grebes, and terns diving and fishing, the sea otters are typically not around. This seemed unusual. While I photographed the otter, Roger and I both noticed that we could hear it cracking hard shells with its powerful jaws and teeth. It was a sound we had never heard before. Between the barking and the cracking, we were in the midst of a wild sea mammal duet.

After the wharf, we walked up the hundred steps stairway to Depot Hill. Breathless at the top, we walk along the cliff, then down to the railroad trestle, across the creek, and back home. There I downloaded these photos and noticed that it looked like the sea otter had a crab in hand and one on its belly. We wonder, is it a sign the sea is producing riches for everyone? We really do hope so.

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